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New climate change programme raises concern - Mahlung

Published:Monday | August 1, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

A new proposal expected to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth's surface has raised concerns among policymakers.

They indicate it could provide an incentive for countries not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Solar Radiation Management proposal is currently being discussed among several stakeholders with the aim of addressing some of the risks associated with climate change. It is expected to inject sulphate particles into the earth's stratosphere, which will reduce the amount of solar radiation and add a cooling effect with respect to the earth's temperatures.

Following the Conference of the Parties, which was held in France last year, several countries committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to curtail global temperatures. Clifford Mahlung, project administrator at the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said while he welcomes any initiative to mitigate against the effects of climate change, it is critical that any such project takes into account the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"It wouldn't reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it would have a cooling effect on the earth's temperature. It's a new science initiative. It hasn't been tried anywhere else in the world, but there are some conclusions that it has very good potential ..." he said.

"The big concern for me, though, being from a small island which suffers greatly from the negative impact of climate change, is that it could also provide an incentive for countries not to reduce their greenhouse emissions. Instead, they would rely on this technology, which would be defeating the whole purpose to combating climate change. It could give people a false sense of hope," Mahlung told The Gleaner.

"Also, you are not sure how long those sulphates will remain in the atmosphere and, if, over time, it will not have a reverse effect. There's a concern with respect to what is known as acid rain, which is a mixture of ordinary rainfall and sulphur dioxide which can be harmful to trees," he added.

However, he said that once the project is properly thought through, it could produce positive results.